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Wednesday, 17 November 2010

British author jailed

A British author who wrote a book critical of Singapore's justice system and alleges judicial misconduct in death penalty cases has received a six-week prison sentence.
Singapore's High Court imposed the jail term and a fine of 20,000 Singaporean dollars (about $15,600 Cdn) on 76-year-old author Alan Shadrake on Tuesday after having convicted him earlier this month of contempt of court for insulting the judiciary.
The Singaporean attorney general's office had charged that accusations made in Shadrake's book Once a Jolly Hangman: Singapore Justice in the Dock question the impartiality and integrity of the judiciary.

The book explores capital punishment in the wealthy Asian country and is critical about how the death penalty is used. Along with interviews with human rights activists, legal experts and former police officers, it profiles the individual who served as Singapore's hangman from 1959 to 2006.

The British writer, based in Malaysia, was arrested when he visited Singapore in mid-July to host a launch party for Once a Jolly Hangman. He was freed on bail two days later. Shadrake still faces a criminal defamation investigation. He had offered to apologize for offending the sensitivities of the judiciary, but emphasized that he would never apologize for his book itself.
Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and other groups have blasted Singapore's prosecution of the author.
"Singapore is answering criticism by jailing its critics," Sam Zarifi, Amnesty International’s Asia-Pacific director, said in a release Tuesday.
The group noted that that the author has been prosecuted under Singapore's criminal defamation laws, which have also been used against other critics of the government.

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